Winner of the best director award for Anca Damian at the 2018 Warsaw International Film Festival, the Romanian film Moon Hotel Kabul is a drama starring Florin Piersic Jr. and Ofelia Popii. Piersic plays journalist Ivan Semciuc reporting from Afghanistan. He's a charismatic man not without his array of flaws and a seeming lack of compassion, undoubtedly made cynical by the endless cycle of wars and conflicts he has covered. Ivan is the type of man who knows how to produce heroes and turn stories into fairy tales, often mixing truth with fiction in his reporting.
Something similar occurs in his own life when he meets Ioana (Popii). After they spend a night together at a hotel in Kabul, Ivan returns to his Bucharest, where he soon learns the young woman is dead, her wrists slashed. From that moment on, Ioana becomes part of his life, slowly turning it into a nightmare. A seemingly meaningless rendezvous has changed everything and that night in Kabul will continue to haunt Ivan. The film asks questions about truth and love, and the price we decide to pay for them, at the same time raising disturbing and difficult questions about contemporary Romania and its involvement in Afghanistan as part of NATO allied nations.
The film, written by Romanian director Damian with Lia Bugnar, is a Romanian/French co-production (Aparte Film and Cinemadefacto) shot in Bucharest and Morocco, doubling for Afghanistan.
“Moon Hotel Kabul examines the existential casualties of war through the prism of a ghostly love story,” says director/writer Damian. “What is our real relationship with the truth? How much of our personal comfort are we willing to give up for it? Which truth is “dangerous” to others? Ivan thinks that his own cynicism and lack of compassion is the ideal key for opening any Pandora’s box. He didn't think it could also open Ioana's mystery.”
Moon Hotel Kabul moves slowly and in an elliptical in a way, a “whodunit” with a hint of Nouvelle Vague, very much appreciated around the world. The film opened in Romanian theaters in 2018 and is one of the country's most acclaimed movies in years. Damian, 57, studied at the Academy of Theatre and Film Arts in Bucharest where she majored in cinematography and direction. She has worked as director of photography for two feature films and many documentaries. Her first feature film as a director was Crossing Dates (2008). She directed the documentary The Magic Mountain (2015), and the feature film A Very Unsettled Summer (2013). Her next film – already shot – will be Marona's Fantastic Tale.